Henry Stacy Marks was born in London on 13 September 1829. The son of a coach builder, he studied heraldry painting before attending Leigh’s School, Newman Street (which later became Heatherley’s) and the Royal Academy Schools. Together with P H Calderon, he spent some months of 1852 in Paris studying under François Picot and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. In the following year, he began to exhibit at the Royal Academy, and was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1871 and seven years later a Royal Academician. He also became an Associate Member of the Old Watercolour Society in 1871 and a full member in 1883, two years after it became the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours.
With Calderon, and other ambitious young artists living in St John’s Wood, he founded the St John’s Wood Clique. A loose grouping of painters of historical genre, the clique was characterised more by its social aspect than by any aesthetic creed. Influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites in his early work, Stacy Marks was obsessed by the Middle Ages and this inspired such ridiculous paintings as Toothache in Olden Time (1856). His best work, however, was as a designer of stained glass (1850s) and a painter of birds (from the 1870s). He had three solo shows of his images of birds at the Fine Art Society in the eighteen-nineties (1890, 1891, 1895). In 1894, he published Pen and Pencil Sketches, his two volumes of memoirs. He died in London on 9 January 1898.